Chai Lifeline’s Hartman Family Wish at the Wall, the only teen tour to Israel that meets the medical and social needs of teens living with chronic illnesses, is already changing the idea of what teens who need wheelchairs, gastric tubes, or supplemental oxygen can accomplish. This afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife, Sara, affirmed their achievements and reinforced their potential impact in an historic meeting at Leonardo Plaza, where the group is based.
The Prime Minister met with the 14 teens and their parents for 20 minutes. He and the young adults introduced themselves, Israel’s first couple spoke with each individual. Netanyahu then welcomed the group.
“This is your home. We are all together,” he affirmed as he acknowledged that he was inspired by each of them. “If you can overcome your struggles, I can help Israel overcome its struggle.”
The teens listened enthusiastically before peppering Bibi and Sara with questions that ranged from governing the state and Netanyahu’s goals for the next election to life as the prime minister and living life in the public eye.
“From a parent’s point of view, it was overwhelming,” said Simi Steiner, who is traveling with her daughter, Lana. “We were grateful he took the time to speak with every child in the room.”
Ali Wolf, whose son Adam is confined to a wheelchair, described the meeting as “Beyond amazing.
“My son sat right next to him. They had a whole conversation,” she marveled.
When the prime minister left the room, it was as if a wind had swept through. Both parents and teens knew they had been part of something very special.
To Mrs. Steiner, this was another highlight of an already extraordinary experience. She can see the changes in her daughter.
“My daughter’s condition causes fluctuations in her blood pressure. Two or three days a week, she just can’t function. On this trip, she’s been perfect. There’s something in the atmosphere that affects her in such a positive way.”
Mrs. Wolf agrees. “Adam is on such a high. Many of the kids know each other from Camp Simcha Special (Chai Lifeline’s overnight camp for children and teens with chronic illnesses). Now he’s become friends with everyone. Really, the kids are becoming their own family. And I can’t imagine that all these people weren’t part of my life all this time.”
The Hartman Family Wish at the Wall is a program of Chai Lifeline, the international children’s health support network. Camp Simcha Special is named in memory of Zvi Dovid Obstfeld. Chai Lifeline’s programs and services enable children with life-threatening or chronic illnesses and their families to cope with the crises and daily challenges of serious pediatric illness. For more information or service, call 800 CHAI LIFE or email firstname.lastname@example.org